Patersons Curse

(Also known as Vipers Bugloss, Italian Bugloss)

Echium spp

Family: Boraginaceae

Type of weed:

Flowering Months: , , ,

Description

A winter annual herb with hairy leaves and stems.

Flowers generally appear from September to December and are deep blue to purple, 20–30 mm long, with five petals fused into a trumpet shape.

Notes:

  • Some people are allergic to the pollen. The rough, hairy texture of the leaves and stems may cause skin irritation in people having close contact with the plant.
  • Paterson’s Curse is poisonous to livestock.

Dispersal

Roughened seed coats allow seed to adhere to wool, fur and clothing. Viable seed is spread by animals that have been feeding on the weed. Seed can also be carried by water runoff or dispersed in contaminated hay and feed grain.

Impact on bushland

Paterson’s Curse often becomes the dominant species in pastures. It is a prolific seeder that can produce more than 5000 seeds per plant per year. It degrades the natural environment, compromising habitat values by crowding out and suppressing native vegetation.

Distribution

, . Mainly in Megalong Valley.

Alternative planting

Native plants

Council provides a tool, on its Mountain Landscapes website, to help you choose native alternative plantings. Choose your village, soil, vegetation community and the purpose of your planting, and the tool will give you suggestions.

There are native nurseries in several Blue Mountains villages, including Glenbrook, Lawson and Katoomba. Please also ask at your favourite local nursery.

Control

  • For small infestations, single plants and small patches can be controlled by hand removal, but all roots must be removed or the plant will regenerate. Use a trowel to loosen the soil first.
  • For dense areas of Paterson’s Curse, including regrowth where there are no native plants, spraying is the most effective treatment.
  • For infestations on rural properties, please refer to Council’s Class 4 Weed Management Plan for Paterson’s Curse.
  • Spraying should not be used in areas where off-target damage is likely to occur.

For more info

For key points on these techniques: